Residents, businesses and community groups still have time to share their views on the future development of Harrogate town centre as part of a six week public consultation which closes on Friday 16 October 2015.
Having looked at the future challenges facing town centres across the UK, including the growth of online shopping and out of centre retailing, Harrogate Borough Council appointed planning consultancy Peter Brett Associates and urban designers Environmental Associates, to prepare a Harrogate Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan.
The main objective of the strategy and masterplan is to provide an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the town centre and to develop a vision and design for the future, which will ensure Harrogate’s continuing economic prosperity.
The Draft Harrogate Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan features:
- a summary of the findings of a comprehensive assessment of the current situation in the town centre
- a vision of what the town centre could be like in 2025 along with a number of strategic objectives that would be necessary to achieve that vision
- a masterplan for the centre of the town and an outline of the projects and proposals relating to the plan policy recommendations for how to manage the town centre and
- a plan for implementing the changes proposed in the draft masterplan
The draft strategy and masterplan sets out a number of projects and proposals that form the core of the physical masterplan under three broad themes:
- a public realm strategy – for the many and varied public areas in the town centre
- a visitor strategy – for people coming to, and spending time in Harrogate town centre and
- a movement strategy – for how people, cars and public transport can better move around the town centre
Over the last month a series of exhibitions and events have taken place to enable local people to find out more about the plans and proposals included in the draft document. These include a stall at Harrogate’s weekly farmers market, an opportunity to meet the planning team at St Peter’s church, where there has also been a two week exhibition of the draft masterplan proposals, and a ‘stakeholders’ event which saw town centre business owners and representatives come together for a presentation and discussion session.
The draft strategy and masterplan is still available in council buildings and libraries across the district and on the council’s website until Friday 16 October.
Once the public consultation closes, a report on the responses the council receives will be produced by the end of the year. That report will look at what changes need to be made, if any, to the draft document and then the document itself will be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet in the new year.
Once adopted, the strategy and masterplan will play a key role in delivering town centre improvements and attracting inward investment to Harrogate town centre.
Councillor Rebecca Burnett, the council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, said:
Harrogate town centre plays a pivotal role in driving the local economy. It is the district’s largest retail, leisure, business and tourist destination, a major conference and exhibition venue, and an important source of local employment.
Towns around the country are facing a number of challenges to their continued survival, and it is crucial that we do all we can to ensure the future of Harrogate town centre.
Part of this must be the design of the town itself and how we can encourage more people to visit and improve their experience of Harrogate.
In preparing a town centre strategy and masterplan we are acknowledging the significance of the centre to the district’s economy and the importance of maintaining a thriving centre that continues to compete strongly with its regional and national competitors.
It is important to note that the draft masterplan doesn’t give detailed designs or costings of the suggested projects included in it; it simply highlights the opportunities available and any particular considerations or constraints that would need to be considered in any more detailed designs.
We are keen to hear from as many people as possible and would urge people to take a look at the consultation document and let us have your views.
Once the final version of the masterplan has been adopted by the council, we will need to decide how and when projects can be brought forward, with partners, and subject to available funding.
The draft documents and the public consultation are on the council’s website at: http://consult.harrogate.gov.uk
The documents are also at the council’s Crescent Gardens offices in Harrogate, at Knaresborough House and Ripon Town Hall.
Responses can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or posted to Planning Policy, Planning and Development, Harrogate Borough Council, P.O. Box 787, Harrogate, HG1 9RW (please provide your name and postal address).
The closing date and time for responding to the consultation is 4.30pm on Friday 16 October 2015.